Google ready to dip its feet in blockchain as it eyes more advancements

Google is looking into crypto as part of its financial services growth plans

Google’s parent entity, Alphabet Inc., revealed yesterday it had hired former PayPal executive Arnold Goldberg to take charge of its payments division. The tech company is ramping up efforts towards expanding financial services, an endeavour that includes cryptocurrencies.

“Crypto is something we pay a lot of attention to […] As user demand and merchant demand evolves, we’ll evolve with it,” Google’s president of commerce, Bill Ready, told Bloomberg.

The company’s current payments platform, Google Pay, allows contactless transactions, in-app, and online purchases. The service is available on select user devices, including smartwatches, tablets, and Android mobile devices.

According to Ready, the aim is to make Google Pay a ‘comprehensive digital wallet’ by including services for users such as airline passes, vaccination passports and digital tickets. Notably, despite Google’s dominance as a search service, its Google Pay service has failed to gain traction in most places, bar India.

The company hopes the revamp will help the service bridge the gap between itself and competing services such as Apple Pay.

Google’s new blockchain unit

In addition to the Goldberg’s hire, Bloomberg also reported yesterday that the firm had created a blockchain division to be run by a newly appointed executive.

Alphabet Inc’s engineering vice president Shivakumar Venkataraman will take charge of a new unit focused on “blockchain and other next-gen distributed computing and data storage technologies.” Venkataraman will become the ‘founding leader’ of Labs, an incubator hosting Google’s virtual and augmented reality projects.

Unlike its prominent tech competitors such as Twitter and Meta, Google has mostly stayed away from delving into blockchain technology. The company has in the past limited itself to only offering cloud services for blockchain firms.

Not the first rodeo

Despite not directly establishing crypto or blockchain services, Google, with the considerable resources in its hands, has been part of collaborations with companies within that realm.

Last June, the technology company partnered with crypto exchange Coinbase to bring Google Pay services to Coinbase Card, with users earning as much as 4% in rebates while shopping. It also launched a debit card with crypto payments service provider BitPay in 2021.

Further, a partnership with Bakkt crypto exchange in October enabled users to buy goods and services using specific crypto coins. Google has also facilitated buying of crypto via Google Pay. Last April, it reached an agreement with Gemini crypto exchange to enable Bitcoin purchases via fiat.

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